Exploring Barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations: The Case of Burmese Refugees in Thailand

Citation:

Zeus, Barbara. 2011. “Exploring Barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations: The Case of Burmese Refugees in Thailand.” Journal of Refugee Studies 24 (2): 256–76.

Author: Barbara Zeus

Abstract:

Millions of refugees today are trapped in protracted encampment where they are dependent on external support for basic necessities. Growing up in a refugee camp, many young people are eager to attain Higher Education but lack the opportunities and freedoms their non-refugee peers enjoy as they transition into adulthood and look for meaningful ways to support themselves. This article explores three main assumptions surrounding barriers to Higher Education in Protracted Refugee Situations both theoretically as well as in relation to the particular case of Burmese refugees in Thailand. Following a rights-based approach and adopting post-structural theories, this literature-based article demonstrates how dominant educational discourse emphasizes externalities and thereby neglects the practical realization of the individual's right to Higher Education, while powerful narratives of refugees as dependent victims have shaped reality in justifying mechanisms for international protection and incapacitating refugees. The article concludes that Higher Education could be both a means to refugee empowerment and a form of empowerment. We must not believe the many, who say that free persons only ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers, who say that the educated only are free (Epictetus, 55-135 AD).

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Education, Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Myanmar, Thailand

Year: 2011

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